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What to do when your cat is lost

If you’ve lost a cat and would like to post a description and picture on our website, please email the photo with the cat’s information, along with your contact information, and where the cat was lost.  Please include any distinguishing features your cat has, and if the cat is chipped or has a collar with tags.

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General Pet Search Tips

Start foot search immediately

The sooner you start searching, the less distance your pet will have traveled. Thoroughly search the surrounding property and continue in the direction that your pet was last seen heading. Go door-to-door, starting close by initially, moving further out later.

Bring a flashlight and check EVERYWHERE: in closets, cupboards, and all accessible spaces inside your home; behind washers, inside pipes and culverts, in heavy brush, sheds, basement crawl spaces, open garages, under decks. Your pet may be stuck somewhere, extremely frightened, or injured and lying low. For lost cats and other climbing critters, check trees, roofs, and attics.

If your pet may still be inside the house, be sure to check the following:

Contact Animal Control and File a Lost Pet Report

Even if your cat doesn’t have tags or a chip, if someone is able to pick up your cat and take it to an animal control facility (or if Animal Control itself traps the cat), notifying the control agencies as soon as your pet is lost and filing a report allows control officers to cross-check their lost pet database every time a new cat comes in.

Contact Local Animal Shelters

Most shelters work with Animal Control Agencies.  But it’s a good idea to make sure shelters in your area know about your missing pet as well.  It’s also a good idea to call and visit local animal shelters every 2-3 days to take a look at the new cats that have been brought in.   If you do find your cat, make sure to call the shelters back to let them know.

If your Cat is Outside: Think like your pet

Put aside your human logic for awhile and put on your animal thinking cap. Were there any sounds or events just prior to the escape that could account for either running towards or running away from something?  Cats are generally chased off their territory by a new cat in the house, a new cat in the neighborhood, a scary noise, or a potential predator.

Look for Clues Outside

Look for physical evidence like animal hairs (caught under fences, on shrubs, around broken screens), paw prints, and animal droppings that may provide clues as to your pet’s whereabouts.

Leave Clues For Your Pet

Put out dirty socks all around your property – they are stinky and smell like you (or in cat terms, home). You can also put out their dirty litter box.
Whenever your pet is used to eating, warm up a bit of wet food, the stinkier the better and walk around your property with it.

Could your pet be trapped?

Have any neighbors recently moved, gone on vacation, or renovating their house? Your pet may have been inadvertently locked in a moving van, delivery truck, or the garage of a vacationing neighbor.  It is also possible that home construction or renovations might have sealed off part of neighbor’s property the day your animal disappeared.

Leave out Food and Water

If your cat is used to being in a carrier, it might be a good idea to leave a carrier out with a blanket that smells like your cat in it, and leave food out on the side.  Of course, you may get some un-wanted visitors, but you’ll have a good chance of enticing your cat too.

Also, your cat might be attracted to an article of clothing that smells like you. Put a recently worn (but not washed) piece of your clothing in the carrier to help them feel safe & comforted while they wait for you.

Go Out at Night when the Streets are Quiet

Call for your pet, and then listen for any response.   Many animals forage for food between 1-5 AM because they feel safer in the dark. The more timid your pet is, the quieter and more slowly you should walk. Bring food and make a noise that would motivate your pet to come running towards you (tapping on a can or rustling a kibble bag). Keep your safety in mind as well.

Enlist Anyone who is Willing to Help

It may be some time before you are reunited with your pet so take advantage of any offers of help.

Make Fliers with a Clear Photo of Your Cat

Print “LOST CAT” in large letters. Include: your pet’s size, coloring, hair length, and any distinctive markings, whether it has a collar, location pet was last seen, as well as a phone number where you can be reached. If you want, add that calls are welcome 24 hours a day. If your pet is timid, add that your pet may run if approached. If your pet is a cat, ask that neighbors be on the alert and notify you if they hear sounds of cat fights, caterwauling, or meowing.

Many neighbors will assume that after a couple weeks either the animal is found or the owner gives up. After a few weeks, remind them that you continue to search with a follow up flier that says CAT STILL LOST.

For safety considerations, DO NOT include your name, address, or a specific reward amount. The type of people that you want to call with tips are animal lovers who don’t care about the money — not pranksters and people looking to make a buck.

Post color fliers on utility poles at busy street intersections, at local veterinary offices, pet stores, pet groomers, laundromats, and community bulletin boards. Make black and white versions of the fliers and leave one at each house nearby.

Talk to Everyone you Meet

Show them the poster and ask if they have seen your pet — particularly neighbors who leave food out for animals, walkers and joggers, children, newspaper carriers, mail and package delivery people. In my experience, houses with gardens that looked like they had been nurtured and cared for, also tended to have the most thoughtful and receptive residents, willing to help in many ways.

Keep your Presence in the Neighborhood Known

If neighbors see you looking, it will remind them to keep their eyes out. You can’t be everywhere at once — depend on others to be your eyes and ears.

Program your Answering Machine

Say something on your machine about your missing cat.  Ask callers to leave the date, time, and location when they may have seen your missing animal, as well as the caller’s name and phone number in case you have questions.

Place an Ad in the Local Paper

And check the Found Pet section of the newspaper.   Many newspapers now have classifieds listed online.

Post Advertisements Online

New services are out there that let people who have lost pets post their pet’s information online.  You can also search Found Pets listings to see if anything matches.

Next, do to
Finally, go to the local vets, Lombard Animal Clinic, Lombard Animal Hospital, Villa Park Animal Hospital, DuPage Animal Hospital and give them flyers – see if there are any other local vets.

The most important thing is to not loose hope. You have to keep trying for Daisy’s sake.

Popular Lost Pets websites include:

Recently moved?

Check your old neighborhood and talk with people there and post fliers

Don’t Give Up and Don’t Lose Hope!

Don’t simply wait for your pet to return on its own.  Many pets are found weeks or months after they disappear. With knowledge, persistence, and proper techniques MANY pets can be found.

Additional Tips from PetFinder